Jalal al-Din Rumi

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Jalāl al-Dīn Rūmī or Mawlānā/ Mawlawī (‘our master’, 1207–73 (AH 604–72)). A great mystic poet of Islam and founder of the Mawlawīy(y)a (Mevlevi) Sūfī order. He was born at Balkh, but his family migrated to Kōnya in Rūm, Anatolia, hence his surname. Rūmī's meeting with the Sūfī, Shams al-Dīn Tabrīzī, led him to abandon his teaching career and devote himself entirely to the mystic path. From then on, Rūmī, over a period of time, received divine illumination; and the love of God became the whole basis of his life. Contrary to general Muslim practice, Rūmī gave music and dance an important place in religious expression.

The best known of Rūmī's works are Diwani-shams-Tabrizi (The Poems of Shams-i-Tabriz) and Mathnawī (The Poem in Rhyming Couplets, tr. R. A. Nicholson, 1925–40), a great mystical poem considered by Jāmī to be the essence of the Qurʾān rendered in Persian. He also wrote a prose treatise entitled Fīhi mā fīhi (What is within is within). His influence over the Sūfī orders of Turkey, Persia, Central Asia, and India reinvigorated Islam from within and helped it recover from the Mongol invasions (1258).

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Rumi, Jalal al-Din (1207-1273)

A Sufi poet born in 1207 in Balkh (now Afganistan). He taught the Sufi doctrine that the chief end of life is to emancipate oneself from human thoughts and wishes, human needs, and the outward impressions of the senses, so that one may become a mere mirror for the Deity. So refined an essence does one's mind become that it is as nearly as possible nothing, yet while in this state it can, by a union with the Divine Essence, mysteriously become the All.

In his teachings, Rumi declared that names and words must not be taken for the things they represent:

"Names thou mayest know; go, seek the truth they name Search not the brook, but heaven, for the moon."

Nature figured largely in the imagery of Rumi's poems. He also used the image of the reed-pipe, which figures largely in the symbolism of the Mevlevi order Sufism, popularly known as the whirling dervishes, which his followers founded after his death in 1273.


Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism. Vol. 20, Detroit: Gale Research, 1997.

Jackson, Guida M. Encyclopedia of Literary Epics. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, 1996.

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